Sunday, February 13, 2011


These Purple Sandpipers provide an excellent study in composition. This first shot is the average Joe, weekend warrior shot. Dead on, bull’s eye, right-down-the middle. This is okay for grabbing the field marks and figuring out what you have when you get home. It’s got everything I need, the bicolored bill, the yellow feet, mottled breast…you get the picture, but I didn’t. This snapshot is rather dull. Look at the expression on his face. It is as if he is saying, “You aren’t going to photograph me like this are you?”©2011 ShootingMyUniverse

To make a more interesting shot, look for different elements of composition such as lines, curves, interest points and texture. I’m just crazy about the spirals in these two photos.

©2011 ShootingMyUniverse

©2011 ShootingMyUniverse

I shot them on a cloudy day with a shallow depth of field, f/5.6. The sky was heavily overcast and it was spitting snow. But fear not, you can get some great shots on overcast days! Notice that there are no shadows! To make it even easier, you don’t have to position yourself relative to the sun which opens up a lot more possibilities for the angle of attack.

©2011 ShootingMyUniverse

In this image above, there are lines, curves, textures, a dead-sharp interest point with nice earth tones on a sunny day. Positioned with the sun over the right shoulder, I was able to get a nice exposure,©2011 ShootingMyUniverse good contrast with a good shutters speed. The background adds interest without distraction.

My next bit of “free advice, and worth every penny you paid for it” is practice this out in the field, whether shooting Fluffy in the back yard, Half Dome at Yosemite or just pictures of your friends and family. Practice not shooting bull’s eyes, look for good backgrounds, tinker with depth of field and look lines. Do it quickly, now or you’re going to get results like this.


Kerri said...

Beautiful captures .... and I LOVE those sprials too! The feather detail is amazing!

texwisgirl said...

Beautiful! And thanks for the great advice. :)

Carol Mattingly said...

Steve your purple sandpipers have made me fall in love with them and they are my favorite shore bird now. You shoot them so well. Thank you. Carol

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I am glad I found your blog. I might just learn a thing or two...or at least look at photo opportunites in a different way.

Roy said...

Great advice Steve.
I particularly like the second and third shots.

KaHolly said...

Sound advice and such magnificent images. I have been neglectful of late, but so glad I stopped by! Reading your posts helps me to see with new eyes! ~karen

Johnny Nutcase said...

these are pretty perfect. I think that last one may be my fav. I'm awfully fond of the Purples too..they're just cute!

Nature ID (Katie) said...

If I can spot something new or unusual, let alone manage to take a non-fuzzy picture of it, I am thrilled. With that said, I do follow a number of wonderful nature photographers and figured you might find this post about the Fibonacci Spiral interesting:

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